Review of Blackout by Meredith McCardle

blackoutcoverBlackout (Annum Guard #2)
By: Meredith McCardle
Release Date: January 13th 2015
Publisher: Skyscape
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Obermann (code name: Iris) has more on her mind than usual. As a member of a covert government organization called the Annum Guard, which travels through time to keep history on track, Iris has been getting some particularly stressful assignments. Plus, Jane Bonner, the Guard’s iron-fisted new leader, seems determined to make life as hard as possible. Thankfully, Iris has Abe (code name: Blue), her boyfriend and fellow Guardian, who listens to her vent—and helps her cope with her mentally ill mother’s increasingly erratic behavior.

When Guardians start to disappear on their assignments, Iris makes a terrifying discovery: a “blackout” squad is targeting anyone who gets in the way of a corrupt force that’s selling out both the Annum Guard’s missions and Guardian lives. Together, Iris and Blue must go undercover to untangle the Guard’s elaborate web of secrets and lies. But when Iris discovers that the terrible truth may involve her own father, a former Guardian undone by his own greed, she must decide how much she’s willing to risk to rescue her friends…and how dangerous the consequences will be for all of humanity.

My Thoughts:
Blackout is the sequel to The Eighth Guardian and was highly enjoyable continuation of the story. The overall feel of the book was slightly different than the first since it focused on the mystery behind the Annum Guard and why certain members were disappearing. Time travel was obviously a large part of the story though it wasn’t as detailed as in the first book. The time periods that Amanda (code name-Iris) visited weren’t described as vividly as in the first book. She wasn’t looking to change the past in this one as much as witness events take place to help her solve a mystery.

The same cast of characters were present in this installment and we get to see more of Abe since he’s joined the guard. The relationship between Amanda and Abe had some adjusting to do so we see a bit of a rocky patch between the two. I’m still not shipping them as much as I’d like though I do enjoy both of the characters. I have really grown fond of Red and was happy to see many more scenes with him. I’m so curious to learn more about his background and I’m hoping McCardle delves into that in the next book.

The first part of Blackout moved slower to me but I was still interested in learning about the characters and the scenes focused on Amanda’s mother’s mental disorder. I appreciated getting insights into her home life as sad as it was.

The action picked up midway and moved at a break-neck pace and be aware…this one ends on a killer cliff-hanger. I couldn’t believe it left me hanging like it did. There isn’t any info for the third book on Goodreads and I’m somewhat distraught being left hanging for I don’t know how long. I hope that the next book will release soon and some info is updated soon.

Final Thoughts:
Blackout was a strong follow up to the first book though it was a tad slower paced in the beginning. I enjoyed the slower sections for the character growth and look inside of Amanda’s home life. Once things get going the pace quickens to an ending with a great twist that left me crying since it was such a cliff hanger. I need the third book immediately and look forward to the ride McCardle with put me through.

Review of The Eighth Guardian by Meredith McCardle

8thGuardianCoverThe Eighth Guardian
By: Meredith McCardle
Release Date: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Amazon Children’s
Format: E-book and Paperback
Source: Kaye Publicity and giveaway

A copy of this book was provided by Kaye Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Amanda Obermann. Code name Iris.

It’s Testing Day. The day that comes without warning, the day when all juniors and seniors at The Peel Academy undergo a series of intense physical and psychological tests to see if they’re ready to graduate and become government operatives. Amanda and her boyfriend Abe are top students, and they’ve just endured thirty-six hours of testing. But they’re juniors and don’t expect to graduate. That’ll happen next year, when they plan to join the CIA—together.

But when the graduates are announced, the results are shocking. Amanda has been chosen—the first junior in decades. And she receives the opportunity of a lifetime: to join a secret government organization called the Annum Guard and travel through time to change the course of history. But in order to become the Eighth Guardian in this exclusive group, Amanda must say good-bye to everything—her name, her family, and even Abe—forever.

Who is really behind the Annum Guard? And can she trust them with her life?

My Thoughts:
When I was offered a copy Blackout I couldn’t resist saying yes to it and the first book, The Eighth Guardian–the covers are beautiful and they are about a secret government agency focused on time travel.

I was easily drawn into this book because of the fast pacing and ease of which time travel was approached. We are introduced to the main character, Amanda, on her testing day. Testing Day puts the students in hard-core situations for an undetermined length of time to test their physical prowess as well as mental fortitude. I found it to be remarkably easy to disband disbelief to imagine an elite school training teens for specialized work. A tad like X-Men minus the super powers.

The story progressed seamlessly from Amanda’s life at Peel Academy to her life in the Annum Guard. I loved McCardle’s approach to time travel and the mechanics of how it worked. It wasn’t overly sci-fi heavy…this book focused more on the action and mystery of what the Annum Guard’s role is.

There was a touch of romance between Amanda and her long time boyfriend Abe. It was sweet though I never was able to fully get behind them together. I wanted to, but since we’re dropped into them being a couple already I didn’t  have that attachment that I get when I read about how a couple begins. The story also doesn’t have all that many scenes between the two so it’s easy to not feel  much for Abe. There wasn’t a love triangle in this but I could see one developing later on (I tend to be able to see the possibility in most series). I couldn’t say if anything will develop or not.

The secondary cast of characters mostly focused on the other members of the Annum Guard. There was never a lot of backstory or time spend on any one character though the author did give a nice taste to some of their backgrounds. I think we’ll see more development in future books.

Final Thoughts:
I found The Eighth Guardian to be a successful action book with time travel thrown in. The characters are fun, pacing fast and generally a great read. The side characters were slightly ignored and I never could get fully invested in the romantic aspect but neither detracted from my overall enjoyment.